Halladay among first to fly model of plane he died in

Former Blue Jays and Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay has been the owner for less than a month of his ICON A5

The tiny sport plane Roy Halladay was flying Tuesday when he fatally crashed into the Gulf of Mexico was made for entry-level pilots like him, though the plane’s chief designer and test pilot died while flying one earlier this year, officials and experts said.

Halladay, the 40-year-old former Blue Jays and Phillies pitcher, had been the proud owner for less than a month of his ICON A5, and was among the first to fly it, with only about 20 in existence, according the website for ICON Aviation.

Related: Former Blue Jays star Roy Halladay dies in plane crash

In one of many enthusiastic tweets about the plane, Halladay said it felt “like flying a fighter jet.”

Rolled out in 2014, the A5 is an amphibious aircraft meant to be treated like an ATV, a piece of weekend recreational gear with folding wings that can easily be towed on a trailer to a lake where it can take off from the water.

“The way that a lot of people described it is a Jet Ski with wings,” Stephen Pope, editor-in-chief of Flying magazine, told The Associated Press Tuesday. “It’s really a plaything.”

The man who led the plane’s design, 55-year-old John Murray Karkow, died while flying an A5 over California’s Lake Berryessa on May 8, in a crash the National Transportation Safety Board blamed on pilot error. The NTSB will also investigate Halladay’s crash to determine the cause.

In other tweets, Halladay said he had dreamed about owning one of the planes, and said in video on the company’s website that he had to talk his wife into letting him get one. The son of a corporate pilot, Halladay had been forbidden to take up aviation until after his retirement in 2014.

Pope said “the plane itself is great,” but he had concerns about Halladay, a new pilot with little flying time, taking the craft out over water at low altitude, though the plane was marketed as a craft that could do that.

“They still think that that’s the way the airplane should be flown, and there are people in aviation who completely disagree with that,” Pope said. “They think you should not have a low-time pilot flying low over water. That’s a recipe for disaster.”

Low flying was part of the problem when Karkow, the designer, crashed, according to federal investigators. Karkow was killed along with passenger Cagri Sever, the company’s newly hired director of engineering.

The NTSB blamed pilot error for the crash, saying Karkow mistakenly entered a canyon while flying too low, causing the plane to strike the canyon wall.

Another A5 crashed in April, making a hard landing in the water off Key Largo, Florida, injuring the pilot and his passenger. The pilot told investigators the plane descended faster than he expected.

Halladay’s ICON A5 went down around noon off the coast of Florida, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.

The sheriff’s office marine unit responded and discovered Halladay’s body in shallow water near some mangroves. No survivors were found.

Police said they couldn’t confirm if there were additional passengers on the plane or say where it was headed.

ICON Aviation said in a statement that the company would assist the NTSB in every way possible with its investigation, and that its executives and employees are “devastated” by Halladay’s death.

“We have gotten to know Roy and his family in recent months, and he was a great advocate and friend of ours,” the statement said.

___

Associated Press Writers Robert Jablon in Los Angeles and Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contributed to this report.

Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Update: Highway 19A reopened north of Qualicum Beach

Road will re-close for paving beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday

Parksville council OKs provisional budget

$5,000 grant to museum added to 2018 budget

High winds cancel slew of BC Ferries sailings

Travel to and from Victoria and Vancouver as well as Northern Gulf Islands affected

Parksville Museum society board inherits financial shortfall

New executive sworn in during contentious AGM

Drunk driver ticketed after wrong-way rollover

Nanaimo man crashes on Inland Island Highway near Qualicum Beach

Moonlight Madness hits Qualicum Beach

Annual event featured Santa, Christmas tree lighting

LGBTQ advocates want military, RCMP to take part in apology

“These are all the organizations that perpetrated past discrimination against the LGBTQ community.”

Canadians are getting bad advice from the taxman

An auditor has found that Canadians are getting bad advice from the taxman, when they can get through

B.C. mining company stakes claim in Australia

Copper Mountain is set to purchase Cloncurry Copper Project in a $93-million deal.

Falvai Creative sets sights on canine Christmas present

Qualicum Beach couple sells first advent calendar to Earl Spencer — Princess Diana’s brother

Nearly no colour for winter-themed show in Qualicum Beach

Painters, photographers, wreath-makers to fill TOSH with art for Almost Black and White

Question of the Week, Nov. 21

Poll: Do you have a charity that you give back to?

Wet weather expected for much of coastal B.C.

The Weather Network is calling for up to 200mm of rain to fall in some areas of the South Coast and Vancouver Island

B.C. reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

Most Read